March 18, Saint-Clément-des-Baleines, Ile de Ré, France
We couldn’t tell if it was getting colder or warmer as we tramped through the fields, the endless marshes on either side of the path making it hard to tell how far we’d actually gone. The weather was glorious, if a bit overcast, and the salt air made it seem like everything was fresher, more alive.
Maybe it was just because we were in the French countryside where everything is supposed to be better. I had come to France to escape la realité and maybe find another. What better remedy to too many cruel months of working an average job (the ultimate burden to the artist!) than to eat too many pastries and baguettes and butter and to go for long walks in the park and browse the ever-enchanting French shops!
I had told myself that having quit my job, a replacement seeming ever far away, that I might as well make my life be as Hemingway/Fitzgerald like as possible and become part of the restoration of the Lost Generation. I had three weeks.
So off to Paris it was, luckily accompanied by one Los Angeles friend, Kat, and meeting another, Ana, who had taken up residence there. My first impression was that there is nothing like French bureaucracy to prove that the French are very silly and the Charles de Gualle airport even sillier. I had managed to get through immigration without any problems and seeing that customs was directly in front of me, and no luggage in sight, it must be one of those places where one collected it after this odd outpost. I walked through, no one even looking at me, and found myself on the other side of barrier staring at a bunch of people greeting the plane.
My friend Kat stood opposite me. “Where are your bags?” she asked. I suddenly realized that they were in fact somewhere from where I had just exited. I had to wait for someone to come out, ran through the no entry (of course, this is something that I would have been detained for in the US, or god forbid, the UK), found my suitcase, and walked through customs once more. Now, it was time to find the entrance for the RER B, the train to Paris.
Once settled in Ana’s flat with some lunch, we set off to prove that jet lag is mere mental state, rushing around looking at clothes in French shops in a semi-crazed fashion. A few hours later, pondering whether a certain leather jacket was really a good idea, and trying to summon up enough French phrases, we decided this was probably real fatigue, to consider actually buying something, especially at 150 Euros, and went back to Ana’s to take a nap.
Ana coming home, dinner, drinking wine with Americans at the table next to us, I was too catatonic to remember much…
But the next day we were off on a train journey across the Western end of France to one of the most picturesque non-tropical islands in the world, Ile de Ré, and that of course is another story…